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Whether you’re a brand new musician establishing yourself online for the first time, or an already established band with a dedicated fan base, there is one thing that love it or hate it, all musicians will have to do. That, my friends, is marketing your music.
So what is marketing?
Marketing is a way of generating fans and awareness for your music. This can be done through a variety of different tactics such as content creation / curation, offering unique experiences, developing a sense of community, and yes even paying to reach fans (new and old).
But marketing needs to have a purpose. Marketing your music is not simply just posting music online, liking statuses on Facebook, and retweeting people on Twitter.
The first step in effective marketing is creating a marketing plan for your music. This is a comprehensive understanding of your audience, the marketplace, and a plan to accomplish whatever goals you’ve set for yourself.
So before we move any further, ask yourself:
Why do you need to create a marketing plan? And what exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Are you just getting started with an online presence and need to reach new fans?
- Are you ready to head out on tour and need to sell tickets?
- Are you already on tour and looking to sell more merch?
- Do you want to double the size of your mailing list?
- Are you putting out a new album and need to re-engage fans to generate awareness about your new project?
All of these, and many more, are valid reasons to get started with your marketing efforts. So let’s dive into the 5 steps to creating an effective music marketing plan:
STEP 1: Define the audience for your music
"Knowing your fans is the key to success."
Read this next statement carefully, and read it twice.
Knowing your fans is the key to success.
With this understanding, you’ll be able to identify where your fans exist and engage online (note: everyone is on Facebook, but not everyone uses Facebook to engage as a fan). You’ll also know how to effectively communicate with your fans, and most importantly, you’ll know how to offer value to your fans to keep them happy and coming back for more.
You should ask yourself some questions to develop a clear picture of your ‘ideal fan’. The fan who is engaging, who can become a word-of-mouth-spreading super fan, who will buy your albums, merch, and tickets. There are two steps to take with the following questions:
- Go through and answer the questions using your existing (gut) instinct.
- Go out and do some research, and validate or change the responses below until you know for sure who your fans are.
- How old is your fan?
- What gender is your fan?
- Where is your fan located?
- What kind of personality does your fan have?
- Is your fan an intellectual?
- Is your fan a partier?
- What excites your fan besides music?
- What is your fan willing to pay for?
- Who is your fan’s favorite band (besides you of course)?
- What is your fan’s favorite social network?
- What is your fan passionate about?
There are far more questions you can be asking yourself here to get to know your ideal fan. Don’t get to a point of analysis paralysis, just think through all the different aspects of what can make your fan unique until you feel you have a strong grasp on the bigger picture.
STEP 2: Analyze the market
Once you understand who your fans are, you also need to understand the market. You need to understand what’s happening in your local community as well as within your genre globally. Having this understanding will help you to establish where you fit in and what unique value you can offer to your fans.
Again, you’ll want to go out and so some research and get an idea of the following:
- Which musicians are seeing the most success locally / globally within your genre?
- What are these successful musicians doing that is working most effectively to build and engage a fan base?
- What are those who are failing doing wrong?
- How likely is the market to buy your album?
- Is any unique offering being successfully bundled with albums to drive stronger sales?
- What sort of content seems to be resonating most effectively… Photos? Videos? Blogs? Remixes? Covers?
- Are artists within your genre touring successfully locally / globally?
Again, there are certainly other questions you can be asking yourself here, but this should set you on the right path to understanding your market.
STEP 3: Establish goals
As I stated earlier in the article, marketing has to have a purpose. At this point you should have established why you need to be marketing your music, but now it’s time to set goals around that purpose.
For example, let’s say you’re marketing a new album. Ok, great. But what’s the goal here?
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